Florida’s House of Representatives’ Republican speaker has come to the defense of Gov. Ron DeSantis. This follows the decision of the state legislature’s sole Jewish Republican lawmaker, state Rep. Randy Fine, to shift his support in the 2024 primary to former President Donald Trump.
Fine, who previously chaired DeSantis’ Jewish outreach initiatives, expressed his disillusionment with the governor in a scathing op-ed, arguing that Trump was a more reliable ally to Jewish Americans.
“I got jumped by a Nazi in Florida. On video. Two weeks ago. In Ron DeSantis’ Florida, that’s no big deal,” Fine wrote in The Washington Times. “Every piece of legislation you hear him talk about regarding Jewish issues is one I wrote,” Fine continued about the governor. “I love his words. His actions have broken my heart.”
Fine highlighted a rise in antisemitic incidents in Florida, especially after Hamas’ terror attack on southern Israel on October 7. He criticized DeSantis for merely offering platitudes against anti-Jewish sentiments. Fine also recounted his 2020 electoral challenge from an overt anti-Semite.
“So many Republican leaders came to my defense; Governor DeSantis did not. He didn’t even endorse me.”
Fine praised Trump’s tenure, asserting that during his presidency, Islamic nations refrained from attacking Jews abroad, and neo-Nazis hesitated to target Jews domestically due to their fear of him.
“The past two weeks have made me realize our choice as Jews is simple. We can vote for the Governor who says all the right things, or we can vote for the President who actually does them. When it comes to action, Donald Trump has never let us down.”
Paul Renner, Florida House speaker, countered Fine’s criticisms on Wednesday. “There’s never been a more staunch, pro-Israel Governor than Ron DeSantis, and his record proves it,” Renner said on X.
“He also implemented many laws to ensure education on the Holocaust in Florida schools, combatted offensive anti-Semitic behavior throughout the state, and secured funding for security to protect Jewish schools and synagogues,” Renner continued.
“It’s shameful political theater at a time when Ron DeSantis is leading the charge to support Israel,” Bryan Griffin, DeSantis’ campaign spokesperson commented, as reported by Politico.
In a related development, the State University System of Florida decided to disband local chapters of Students for Justice in Palestine. The national leadership of SJP had supported the Hamas attack on Israel. Fine insinuated that this action was a reaction to his op-ed. He questioned the DeSantis campaign’s delay in taking this step, hinting at political motivations behind the move.
Historically, DeSantis has consistently received endorsements from the Florida state legislature. In contrast, Trump has secured the support of Florida’s congressional delegation. Fine had been among the 100 Republican Florida state legislators who backed DeSantis in May. However, recent RealClear Politics polling data indicates Trump leading DeSantis by 46.5 percentage points.
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